Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt November 27, 2018.
(photo credit: BANDAR ALGALOUD/COURTESY OF SAUDI ROYAL COURT/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Egypt withdrew from efforts to form an "Arab NATO" intended to work against Iran.
Sources said that the Egyptians were also absent from a meeting in Riyadh at the beginning of last week, at which the alliance was discussed.
The development is a difficult setback for President Donald Trump, who along with Saudi Arabia had advanced the establishment of a coalition of Arab nations to counter Iranian expansion throughout the Middle East.
An anonymous source from one of the Arab nations involved said that the Egyptians have already announced to the Americans and to the Saudis that they will not take part a military, political or economic coalition with Sunni Arab states, due to fears of increased tensions with Iran, and an assessment that President Trump will not be elected to a second term in office.
"We all want Egypt to be a part of an Arab NATO," said the source, "especially as it has the largest army of any Arab nation, and because it carries importance."
Iran commented that it was verifying the information, but that "if it is true that Egypt retreated from efforts to form an Arab NATO, we welcome this."
According to the White House, the coalition was founded by Saudi Arabia with the additional purpose of limiting Chinese and Russian presence in the Middle East.
Translated from Maariv by Zack Evans.
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